Earthships - houses made from tires

Straw bale, adobe - heck, even car tires can be used to construct a solid, earth friendly, energy efficient house! Share your alternative building experiences and ask for advice here

Earthships - houses made from tires

Postby MichaelB » Thu Sep 24, 2009 2:21 pm

Millions of tires are scrapped, dumped or otherwise disposed of in Australia each year. Here's a good use for them!

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An Earthship is a passive solar home made of natural and recycled materials. Usually made of earth-filled tires, they utilise thermal mass construction to regulate indoor temperature. Earthships are generally powered by off grid wind or solar power systems,minimising dependence on public utilities and fossil fuels.

Seems like a pretty amazing sort of structure - has anyone seen any of these in Australia?
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Re: Earthships - houses made from tires

Postby Evan » Sat Sep 26, 2009 10:20 pm

Never heard of one in Australia. Are the tyres bio-degradable?
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Re: Earthships - houses made from tires

Postby Millsy » Tue Sep 29, 2009 4:12 pm

Hello Evan,

An earth ship house is in the Yarra Valley in Victoria near me, also one of the primary schools was going to build a new classroom with this method.

I have a question for you, hopefully you might have some idea. I find the idea interesting although it seems very labour intensive, i do wonder, with all the chemicals and pollution in tyres could this not be a potential health hazard?

I much prefer the idea of Strawbale construction, its super efficient, extremely high fire rating, great on the environment but not the cheapest of methods for building. :?
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Re: Earthships - houses made from tires

Postby jdaley » Tue Oct 13, 2009 12:43 pm

Tyres are not biodehradable.
There is a web site which details the whole Eartrhship concept, just google it.
It is used mainly in hot dry climates where I believe it would be safe and a great alternative to conventional building processes.
The labour is no worse than any other sysytem because bob cats can be used to shift soil quickly.

Strawbail is very different and whilst it has its advtantages it has disadvantages as well, just as rammed earth, pressed or puddled mud bricks all have good and bad points.

In the case of tyres you are probally being involved in the ultimate re-use function compared with anything else.
John Daley
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Keen alternative energy user and recycler of anything
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Re: Earthships - houses made from tires

Postby karlajensen » Sun Jan 23, 2011 7:17 pm

Dad and I had a crack without the bobcat
wow -real hard yakka, you see in his video he had armies of "helpers"
what I can say is that I dont think I have enough mates
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Re: Earthships - houses made from tires

Postby Xennon » Thu Oct 27, 2011 6:29 pm

I've been researching Earthships for a few weeks and trying to work out why (according to the original designer - Mike Reynolds) they cost the same as conventional houses given that they are predominantly built out of recycled materials (tyres and cans and plastic bottles). The idea just grabbed me - the whole off-grid, internal green house garden thing and the constant temperature throughout the year virtually eliminating all heating and cooling costs for the home.

As for the tyres, they're free to acquire (as are most of the other mats used in construction) - they are not biodegradable but they are also no longer toxic in that they don't leach anything into the environment and as a 150+ Kg building brick that's nearly a metre thick when used as a wall makes them an ideal building thermal-mass unit. It also goes some way to reducing the otherwise insane build up of these things in dumps.

The main site is http://earthship.com/ - but IMO it's really in desperate need of a re-design as it seems to be put together very badly and confusing to navigate at times. I've also had no luck getting any replies from them. I have found a ton of stuff on the web including YouTube videos.

As for pounding those tyres full of dirt ... at my age and my non-existent fitness level and obese body structure, I would just fall over and die on the 1st tyre ... but ... i Did see one bloke (a kiwi dude) use a hydraulic ram thingo to compress the dirt into the tyres ... looked very very easy and fast but it looked a little cumbersome so I'm trying to come up with something similar as a tool that will remove all the hard work and improve performance. The average earthship has around 800-1500 tyres so finding a better way is essential - I don't have ANY mates who would be willing to do that sort of hard yakka - certainly not on 1500 tyres.

Also, these buildings are perfect for ANY location on earth. They are built in europe where it gets down to -20+ degrees C in winter and in deserts like New Mexico where the summer heat can get to around 40C yet the house remains at about 23C all year long.

I love them - I just really really hope I can get to build one soon.
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Re: Earthships - houses made from tires

Postby MrsTwinn » Fri Dec 23, 2011 3:17 pm

Hi all. New member and found you by googling earthships in Victoria. I've been researching earthship designs, underground constructions and such for some months now.I know there is a terradome hotel in the Grampians and DH has promised me a weekend away sometime when we find babysitters. http://www.grampiansvictoria.com.au/go/ ... ay-park#61
There was also an episode of Grand Designs where a British man build a rammed tyre home in Brittany in France where the temperatures can get very cold. He and his family said the temperature was comfortable all year round. They have a HE-UGE solar heated water tank that pumps the hot water through the floor year round warming the bio-mass in Summer and the floors and house in Winter. They live off the grid and their solar system generates them around $5 Euros a day. It's Season 10 episode 9 I believe.
Anyway, hoping to convince DH not only to tree-change but to go the works and go underground so to speak. :D
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Re: Earthships - houses made from tires

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Fri Dec 23, 2011 3:42 pm

Welcome to the Energy Matters forus MrsTwinn :)

Earthships are certainly very well insulated, but to me the construction of them seems like a really huge undertaking that requires an army of workers!
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Re: Earthships - houses made from tires

Postby MrsTwinn » Fri Dec 23, 2011 4:16 pm

I did read somewhere that you can buy tire bales which can be used - basically large bricks the size of 2-3 tires stacked but square that are made of compressed tires.
I do agree though, they are very labour intensive but I believe you can get tools to make it easier than hammering it in with a sledgie! I guess I see it as hard work done now and hard work saved later. I'd love for DH to be able to look at early retirement whilst the kids are young enough to still want to spend time with him (currently 3 under 4). With a self sufficient house, or very nearly and a frugal lifestyle I'm hoping it will be possible.
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Re: Earthships - houses made from tires

Postby Electric Madness » Sat Jan 14, 2012 1:57 pm

The godfather of earthships...

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